Archives for posts with tag: vegan lunch

As I mentioned last week, I’ve relocated to ol’ Sydney town. I’ll be here for a few months before heading overseas for a wee bit. Who knows where this wild roller-coaster we boringly call ‘life’ will take me after that? For now I plan to uphold my promise to you, dearest reader, and drag (really, it’s a tough gig) my butt along to some of the finest vegan-friendly food dispensaries this fair city (gosh she’s a beauty, ain’t she?) has to offer. A heads up on Sydney’s most lip-smacking cafes offering cruelty-free grub for Melbourne readers who are visiting or for those of you lovely followers who call this place home.

It only takes a little Instagram thumb scrolling to realise that there’s a real hub of conscious eating happening in the Bondi area. A couple of weekends ago the folks and I headed for the beach for some brunch-hunting and Bondi Farmers Market shopping. We found a cozy little offering of divine smelling coffee and breakfasty delights hugging a North Bondi street corner across the road from the ocean. It’s certainly an intimate atmosphere at Porch and Parlour so you may need to wait for a seat but I promise you it’s worth it.

This little beauty serves up locally sourced, seasonal produce accompanied by delicious cups of rich and smooth Will & Co. coffee. I practically excited-squealed my order at the friendly beard and man-pony adorned waiter. This was my first vegan brunch since coming back to Sydney and I had high expectations. They were met. I enthusiastically devoured my scrambled tofu with semi dried tomato, basil, spinach, red onion, kalamata olives, plump and juicy cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic cloves, hummus and lemon.

t-scram bondi

Yes, it was a big gorgeous mess. I loved that there was enough guts to this t-scram (yes, I coined this a few posts back and I’m sticking with it — don’t snort) that it didn’t need any bread. Perfect for those avoiding the dreaded gluten. This is made even more delicious with a generous glug of Handsome Devils Co. hot sauce (the De Arbol doesn’t have honey in it, the Chipotle does). With a ‘best of’ Creedance Clearwater Revival adding extra warmth to the atmosphere and a ripper cup of coffee on offer, the folks and I decided P&P’s the perfect spot to kickstart the weekend. We’ll be back.

Vegan options: The t-scram and there were a couple of sweet options too.
Coffee: Noice. Locally roasted Will & Co.
Soy: Bonsoy
Moola: $21.50 for breakfast and a coffee. Not bad.
Ear candy: Creedance Clearwater Revival.

Have you got a favourite vegan-friendly spot in Bondi?

 

When a regular cafe touts they are ‘vegan friendly’ — what are you hoping for? I know for a lot of people they are expecting one or more vegan dishes on the menu. I actually don’t mind if there are no vegan dishes on the menu. If there is nothing vegan-ready on the menu, the kitchen is usually happy to take something off a dish and I’m cool with that. But i’ve decided the term ‘vegan friendly’ should mean that if there are no vegan dishes on the menu and you have to take several items off my plate to veganize it, that you will be happy to give me a couple of veg-friendly items in their place without charging me through the nose for it. I’m getting a little tired of ‘vegan friendly’ cafes explaining that almost everything on their menu can be veganized and that if I just take off the organic sheep’s fetta, free-range bacon and fresh pesto and add some mushrooms and tomato, that will be lovely. Then I get charged for the mushrooms and tomatoes on top of the original price of the dish (which was that price in the first place to cover the expensive animal ingredients) and end up with a $20 breakfast which is basically just a couple of veggies on toast. To me, that’s not vegan friendly.

The same old thing happened at Fitzroy’s Industry Beans on the weekend. With that gripe out of the way I have to say I really dug this little bean-obsessed cafe. Coffee beans that is. The team here are caffeine wizards, coffee alchemists, bean fiends! And I had one of the nicest cups of coffee I have ever had in Melbourne (and that is high praise indeed, perhaps the highest). The atmosphere was fab, they have a great little outdoor area that is covered in and canine friendly, and the wait staff were warm and helpful. Plus its proximity to the Rose Street Market makes it part one of the perfect little Christmas shopping combo.

The coffee menu is a delight, guiding you through an awesome array of single origin, single estate and blended coffees. And when I asked which drop would be the most soy milk friendly, the waiter went out of his way to check it out for me. The result was a perfect little brew that needed no sugar, such was its heart-starting perfection (I usually take one sugar in my coffee).

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Everything on the menu includes meat or dairy. There seemed to be a couple of sweet dishes that just required the yoghurt and honey taken off or the milk switched. But I was desperate for something savoury, such is my vegan brunching curse. Sweet breakfasts are easier to come by but I just never find eating oats or fruit salad when I’m out weekend brunching that appealing. Especially if I’ve had a bottle of wine in my hand the night before. A lovely waiter explained I could take the cheese off the avocado smash and replace it with some veggie matter from the menu. I was happy with that. But of course I was charged for the dish that had the expensive goats chevre taken off it and then charged extra for the tomatoes I had in its place. So, despite the dish being nice enough (although avocado on toast never makes one’s knees quiver does it?), I paid $17.50 for avocado on toast with 8 cherry tomatoes that had been chucked in the oven for a bit.

Okay now my whinge is over. Promise.
Everyone else’s dishes, including Captain Someone’s french toast with cold drip coffee beads, looked ah-may-zing. So I am keen to return here for lunch some time and see if that menu has a little more to offer us cruelty-free kids. And to have another coffee. Oh my quickening heart, that coffee.

Vegan options: Nothing vegan-ready on the menu but staff very friendly and ready to suggest modifications
Coffee: There is a hard cover coffee guide. Ya hear me? Enough said.
Soy: Bonsoy
Moola: I did not think $17.50 for avo on toast was a fair price
Ear candy: When I tuned in I heard Tame Impala and Sharon Jones. Thumbs up.

Am I being a big fat whingey pants? What do you think ‘vegan friendly’ should mean?

Have you been to Monk Bodhi Dharma? Go there. Immediately.
Come on, put your shoes on!

For some cruelty-free Melbournians, this vegetarian cafe is an old haunt by now. But due to it’s location south of the river and its hidden-away positioning — in a carpark down an alley in Balaclava — it’s still a fairly well kept secret. Monk serves up a delicious brunch menu that is very vegan and gluten-free friendly with little touches of raw magic. They also host fully raw dinners on Friday nights. The decor is industrial grunge, the coffee is outstanding, the atmosphere is buzzing and with my lovely friend and raw food alchemist, Na Sayana, in the kitchen I have no doubt the food will knock your socks off.

Captain Someone and I headed there a few weeks back for some Sunday brunch action. Due to a very lucky error we ended up with three amazing dishes  to ease the morning belly rumbles. The first was The Avo: avocado tossed with mint, chilli and lemon and served on top of deliciously crusty bread (GF bread available, this was decidedly gluten-eeee so I only had a little) smeared with a creamy, almost cheesy (perhaps cashew cheese) spread. Simple and delectable.

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Next up: apple pancakes — hummina, hummina! Buckwheat apple pancakes served with raw cinnamon ice cream, maple syrup, vanilla bean whipped cream, fresh berries and dehydrated apple chips. Partly raw, all vegan, gluten free. I’m serious. No, you shut up! Beautiful to look at and absolutely delicious to eat. This dish is sweet, fresh and fun.

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Finally, we indulged in the Umami Mushroom dish. Slow roasted king oyster, shitake, oyster and swiss brown mushies on a house made pumpkin, spinach and sun dried tomato polenta bread. It was served with a creamy vegan cheese, thyme and red chilli oil — also gluten free! Rich and flavourful, this dish would satisfy even the hungriest brunch hunter. And, yes, that is a deliciously crispy enoki mushroom fan you see in the image.

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All but one or two of their dishes are vegan or vegan adaptable  — just make sure you let them know you are vegan when you order. I’ll be getting back to you soon with a review of the Friday night dinner menu. I have heard talk of a raw, vegan deconstructed snickers and quite frankly I’m not sure how much longer I can go on without getting my mouth around that little number. The food is fresh, exciting and beautifully presented and they are very passionate about the ol’ coffee bean too. Definitely a must for any foodie, not just the vegan kids.

Vegan options:
Most of the menu is vegan adaptable, whoot!
Coffee: The coffee is a little bit special. They call themselves a ’boutique micro roastery’ and the beans are direct trade and mostly single estate.
Soy: Bonsoy
Moola: I think breakfast and coffee is around the $20-$25 mark
Ear candy: I can only remember happy chatter and some serious oohing and aahing

Do you have a favourite ‘southside’ vegan brunch spot?

There’s a new(ish) kid on the block. The North Carlton Canteen is a welcome addition to the culinary no man’s land between Brunswick’s piece of Lygon Street and Carlton’s little Italy. It’s nice that the smell of roasted coffee beans and toasted sourdough now fills the void previously monopolised by rose buds and death. It only struck me while I was slurping on my medium roast why this particular spot is such a hub of floral activity (including a 24-hour drive-through florist). It’s the strip running opposite a cemetery. And behind sweet Valentines and mothers on Mother’s Day the next category of people most commonly in receipt of a heartfelt bouquet has got to be the dead. Hmm. Right. Mystery solved. Now, that’s enough about the dead. I’ll tell you what wasn’t lifeless: the mushrooms NCC served me for breakie! Another seamless segue, Emma.

While there was nothing vegan-ready on NCC’s menu, the very attentive and friendly waitress was happy to ask her vegan colleague for suggestions. The two of them rattled off a few ideas and I went with smashed avocado on seeded sourdough with a side of mushrooms. It was a simple meal but it was delicious. A big dollop of creamy avocado, nutty roasted pumpkin seeds and tangy lemon was the perfect topping for the crunchy Brasserie sourdough. The mushrooms were full of flavour, juicy and tender. I would be happy to go back and try another of the dishes they said could be veganised — a pumpkin and rocket toasted sammie sounded like a winning lunch option.

NCC blog pic

Vegan options: Nothing vegan on the menu but they are happy to put a few options together for you.
Coffee: The coffee is a single origin Italian blend, specially roasted for NCC. It was nice, but I’ve had better coffee in the area.
Soy: Bonsoy
Moola: I paid over $20 for what was essentially avocado and mushroom on toast (and a coffee) so I definitely grade this vegan breakie as a little pricey.
Ear candy: Not sure actually. There’s a great busy atmosphere inside the cafe and the air is filled with chatter.

Have you got a favourite vegan-friendly spot in Carlton?

Beans! Often vegan brunching in this fair city can feel like one long parade of the ‘musical fruit.’ I never thought I would get sick of ’em. I did. Whoa! No need for the dramatic worldwide (really, I flatter myself) collective intake of breath vegan comrades! I’m not about to give beans the it’s-not-you-it’s-me speech. I just wish Melbourne chefs would consider concocting something a little more exciting for the cruelty-free brunch hunters among us.

That bean said, I have had some of these little legumes served up to me in some of the most deliciously rich sauces — smokey, sweet, spicy, salty, slide down your throat and warm your very soul. I have been lucky enough to stick my fork into some of the best beans in the city, so, now I reckon I’m a wee bit fussy.

That may be why the beans at Fitzroy’s all-day breakfast institution, Marios’ Cafe, didn’t knock my socks off. There are no vegan-ready dishes on Marios’ (named after two Marios, nope, not a Luigi in sight) menu but they are happy for you to build your own breakfast — hold the dairy! I ordered baked beans on toast with a side of grilled tomato. The beans were in a rich and tasty tomato sauce, the bread was generously thick and the tomatoes were sweet. It may not have given me a When Harry Met Sally moment (if you want that kind of beans experience go to Ray or A Minor Place) but it was a nice meal.

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Despite the lack of vegan-friendly creativity it’s worth a trip to Marios’. It is, after all, a Fitzroy institution and where else do you get to sip delicious coffee, served up by waiters in waistcoats with a front row seat to the theatre show that is Brunswick Street.

Vegan options: You can build your own breakfast. The ingredients will be simple but well prepared.
Coffee: The two Marios are very serious about their coffee. They have their own blend, roasted in Fitzroy and it’s top notch.
Soy: Bonsoy (I think)
Moola: $15.80 for breakfast and a coffee
Ear candy: A little bit o’ gypsy. Why not?

Do you have a favourite vegan-friendly Fitzroy cafe?

You thought you knew peanut butter. Standing alone in the kitchen with no-one to judge you. Just you and a spoon and a jar of good quality peanut butter — heaven, right? Wrong. You don’t know how good peanut butter can be until you’ve had homemade peanut butter. And one step better than that is the taste and texture of homemade peanut butter without having to lift a finger — or a peanut. Enter Wide Open Road.

I believe this Brunswick café and roastery may just be home to the best peanut butter in Melbourne. So now that I have made a grandiose claim and featured the words ‘peanut butter’ more in one paragraph than ever before — onto the dish! You can get your fingers sticky with two giant hunks of Rustica sourdough slathered (thick! the chef may have dabbled in brick-laying in a past life) in house-made peanut butter and topped with fresh banana and agave nectar. A lot of thought has gone into building this simple little slice of heaven. The peanut butter is just the right side of salty to pair perfectly with the sweetness of the banana and agave. And none of that super-pasty-stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth-forever business either! Wash it down with one of Wide Open Road’s near perfect Bathysphere blend coffees and you have a very filling, delicious Sunday starter for just over twelve bucks!

IMG_0559And the good news doesn’t stop there. There’s a second scrumptious vegan option on the menu. Portobello mushrooms, skordalia, smoked almonds, currants and pickled cauliflower with a slab of Rustica sourdough. Big, fat, juicy mushrooms, crusty bread, creamy potato and garlic puree (the skordalia), smokey almonds, sweet currants, slightly sour and slightly crunchy cauliflower. You guessed it, this dish is a flavour bomb. The textures are great and the flavour combination is adventurous which really reflects the kind of menu Wide Open Road delivers. Add to that great service, a bright and breezy atmosphere and killer coffee and you can see why it’s one of my new favourite haunts.

IMG_0525Vegan options: There’s the two you see here and there are also changing specials which may sometimes be vegan-friendly. They also do a vegan slice.
Coffee: The coffee is outstanding. The Bathysphere blend is roasted onsite (they supply the same blend to A Minor Place). They also do drip and filter.
Soy: Bonsoy
Moola: $12.50 for the first dish and coffee. Or $20.50 for the fancy mushies on toast and a coffee.
Ear candy: Always a good mix tinkling in the background.

Where’s your favourite vegan brunch?

I stumbled upon Gypsy Hideout on a wee excursion to the Fruit Peddlars in Northcote. I knew that if I was about to buy my body weight in Vegusto vegan cheese (holy wow! A review on this cheese-prayer-answering product coming soon), CoYo ice-cream, and activated nuts — I best be fuellin’ myself up so as to have the strength to carry it all.

This café, nestled in the Westgarth strip of Northcote, is bright and breezy with a white-washed interior and a cute little courtyard out the back. The service was friendly and my waiter was happy to offer a suggestion for veganising one of the interesting dishes on the Mediterranean-infused menu. I was served Greek Yemista — plump, roasted tomatoes stuffed with rice, garlic and herbs — on a bed of baby spinach with crusty sourdough and baba ganoush. The serving was mammoth. I couldn’t finish it. And that never happens to this little plate-scraper. I would recommend sharing this with another — or taking a hangover with you. The tomatoes were tasty but the chef’s unique baba ganoush was the star of the show. It was creamy and chunky and unlike any other baba ganoush I’ve smeared on sourdough. And I’ve done a lot of smearing.

I recommend giving the hideout a shot. The coffee was rich, the service attentive and there are nice little details about the place like Gypsy Elixirs that come in chemistry flasks and vintage souvenir spoons to stir your hot drinks.


Vegan options:  No obvious vegan options on the menu, especially in the brunch category but they were more than happy to veganise this dish for me so it would be worth asking what they can do.
Coffee: The coffee was great, this I remember. But I lost my notes so I cannot tell you the usual tidbits: which coffee, which soy, what it all came to and what kind of tunes tinkled in the background. Forgive me!

Do you have a favourite vegan-friendly lunch spot in Northcote?

You know those advertisements that sell flights or alcohol or perfume by painting a picture of the most perfectly exotic location where everything is just sexier, even sweat-soaked people? The kind that draw you right in because you know that things as dull as loan repayments and finding gym motivation just wouldn’t exist in a place so exciting and exotic. You find yourself wishing for a teleportation device.

That is what eating Lebanese food does for me. And that is why it is one of my favourite cuisines. The food is fresh and flavoursome and very vegan-friendly.

Collingwood’s Bayte provides the brunch-hunters of Melbourne with Middle Eastern tastes to kickstart the day’s eatin’— bringing something different to the city’s café scene.

And it seems chef, Julie Touma doesn’t mind whipping up something delicious for us cruelty-free crew either. While there was nothing vegan-ready on the menu, our friendly waitress returned from the kitchen with the news that the chef was happy to put something together for me.

Every mouthful of my breakfast was a wee trip to Lebanon and was followed with exclamations like,”oh my god, so smokey,” “oh my god, so tangy,” “pomegranate is definitely underrated,” and, “no you cannot have a second try of that one” (this was directed at Captain Someone).

The freshly baked flatbread was warm and soft and the babaganoush rich and smokey. These were paired with pumpkin kibbeh (a warm slice made with pumpkin, pine nuts, burghal, onion and spices) and nestled next to a zingy Mograbieh salad (the giant chewy Lebanese version of cous cous, with pomegranate, red onion, pine nuts, dill and roasted zucchini). I loved it. For a breakfast spot with a difference you have to check out Bayte.

Vegan options: While there are no vegan-ready dishes on the menu, Julie was only too happy to whip something up. I recommend asking for exactly what I had.
Coffee: A very good kiwi drop, Allpress
Soy: Bonsoy
Moola: Very fair for this kind of fare, $18.50 for breaky and a coffee
Ear candy: I enjoyed the fact that they were playing the lovely Beirut in a Lebanese café

Where’s your favourite place to brunch in Collingwood?

Some of the best things in life come in a bowl: delicious, warming soup; hot and spicy noodles; creamy curries and lovely, velvety soy lattes (ok, soy lattes don’t come in bowls, but I believe with all my heart they should).

Today I had lunch with some sassy vegan bloggers — Hannah from Let Food Be Thy Medicineher skilled vegan-baking sister, Sarah and Vegie Head‘s Adele — and experienced a Munsterhaus bowl for the first time. My taste buds are still thanking me for the rainbow of fresh, healthy and delicious vegetable dishes and salads that were (for a very short time) piled high in my bowl.

Fitzroy’s Munsterhaus is an all-vegetarian, vegan-friendly, Deco-inspired café on St Georges Road.  The concept is simple: you choose a bowl size, whichever combination of vegie delights you’d like crammed in that bowl (and they ain’t skimpy), and whichever delicious dip you’d like to crown the whole lot with.

A small bowl is definitely enough for a meal, a medium bowl is for the hungry and the large bowls are for lumberjacks and girls that are going through a breakup.

I said, “I’ll have some of everything that’s vegan please.” Except it sounded more like, “I’ll have some of everything thas veg pleh,” because I had already started drooling down my top.

I won’t try to break down the different elements of my lunch (there were about ten) but I will tell you magic happened in that bowl of mine. Standouts were the quinoa salad, the tangy glass noodles and the creamy tofu dip. For a big ol’ bowl of seasonal and flavoursome food you can’t beat Munsterhaus — with good value and friendly service to boot.

Vegan options: Plenty! I think all but four of the buffet-style dishes were vegan
Moola: 
$10 for a small bowl, $14 for a medium and $18 for a large
Ear candy: 
The conversation was so stimulating I didn’t notice the tunes this time.

What’s your favourite way to fill a bowl?